Student societies at Queen Mary are angry at being told that in order to use their campus’ theatre space, they will have to pay the corporate rate of £357 a day.
The Queen Mary Theatre Company (QMTC), a student society, was quoted £2,500 of “internal charges” for a seven-day hire of the recently refurbished great hall.
These prices prevent students from developing their own abilities, according to Wai Wan Choy, co-president of QMTC. He said it is “ridiculous considering it’s a college-owned venue but has been priced out of range for many student societies and groups”.
The rates compare unfavourably to those of other University of London colleges. University College London (UCL) offers twelve weeks of free student and staff use for their equivalent-sized venue.
Queen Mary’s theatre space, which seats up to 770 people, was officially re-opened in February following a £6.3 million refurbishment, but has since been mainly used for college lectures and commercial out-of-college hire.
The college was also only willing to offer corporate rates when the Queen Mary Student’s Union (QMSU) attempted to book the venue for their upcoming winter ball.
According to a member of the winter ball committee, the union attempted “to negotiate prices”, but the quote given by the college forced the union to resort to hiring a third-party venue off-campus which was less expensive and had a higher capacity.
Sarah Sarwar, president of QMSU, said it was important that the space “can be available to student groups”.
She added: “The union doesn’t have any official comment on [the pricing] yet, but the internal charges strike me as so bizarre”.
The college defended the internal hire charges by claiming that the venue requires considerable resources to maintain and that consequently “internal users need to contribute financially to its upkeep and the cost of hosting events”.
Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 4 (18/11/2013)